Thursday, November 18, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
In the first picture, you can see some glass rods and "frit", along with some stringers up on top of the kiln. The reason they are there is to warm them prior to use. If you warm your rods before taking them to the flame for melting, it is less likely that they will crack or break. Broken rods can shoot hot glass across a room and if it lands on something that can be burned, it will leave a permanent scar - not to mention if it hits your face! (Although, typically it will shoot away from you - so be aware of what is lying in front of your working space.)
I use stainless steel items to place my rods in so that they don't roll around while on the the top of the kiln. The tip of the rod that I will be melting in the flame is placed on the kiln, while the other end (handle), is placed off of the kiln as far as possible without it falling off. This keeps the part of the rod you will be holding cool enough to handle without burning yourself when you pick it up. It also keeps the paper tag from burning, which I like to keep so I know what colors I have used up and need to reorder.
Contained in the colorful dishes on the top of the kiln in the second photo are what I call recyclable waste glass - in other words, mistakes! Many beads and marbles do not work out to my high standards of perfection. If that happens, I remelt the glass and use it for something else - usually marbles for my grandsons (I have plenty). It is always good to preheat these larger pieces of glass before trying to reintroduce them to the flame since they can crack, split, explode, break into a million pieces and fall onto your work table below (or your lap!), and the list goes on. So I warm them ahead of time on top, and if I'm going to actually introduce large pieces into the flame, they're actually placed inside of the kiln for a while.
The tiny pieces of glass you see are called "frit". When pulling stringers (a subject for another day), they tend to spit off a tiny tip of the pull spot and leave it on the work space when you pick up the frit for sorting and storage. Depending on what the stringers were made for - some can be striped or swirled, or very colorful - these tiny tips can make for some very interesting color combinations (or "confetti") on top of an already formed bead as a last step. I like to use the inside of marble with a lot of clear in between so they seem to be floating inside.
I guess the bottom line here is to warm your raw materials as much as possible before carefully and slowly introducing them to the flame for melting. Things will go much smoother if you do.
Posted by Kimberly Theodore at 11:08 AM
Sunday, November 14, 2010
The water that I bring out fresh each time I go to work on my torch, is kept close at hand (hand being the key word here). The first place you want to stick your hand if you happen to burn yourself, is right into that water - and keep it there while the cool water draws out the heat of the burn. If you happen to drop a marble in your lap (done that), and your clothes burn, you can simply grab around the outside of the burnt hole and dunk it in the water.
The water serves other purposes as well. When working with tools such as pliers, tweezers, mashers, etc., you can dip the end of the tool in the water to cool it off so that it does not get so hot that the glass piece or the glass itself doesn't begin to stick to it. Even if it does, a quick dunk in the cool water and a bump on the bottom will release the glass that was stuck to the tool.
Another good use of the cool water is when you are making marbles and using steel punties (handles, instead of the "mandrels" used to make beads that need a hole in them). As soon as you remove one punty to switch to another to work on the opposite side of the marble, the hot punty goes right into the water. This way, you don't need to worry about placing it on some surface nearby that may burn - and the punty is now ready to be used again for the reverse side during your work if needed.
The towel you see next to the water is soaked with either water or window cleaner so that I can wipe off any new glass rod that I am about to heat up in the flame. While most dust and debris tends to simply burn off of the glass as you heat it, I prefer not dealing with that process - especially when working with clear, which has its own set of problems in terms of keeping it clear throughout the process for a sparkling clear end product.
Posted by Kimberly Theodore at 10:29 PM